There’s a lot to consider when selecting health insurance, and a large percentage of employees doubt they’d make the right decision on their own — good news for consultants hoping to maintain trusted adviser status. One-fifth of employees were not confident they would make the best choice, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute study.

Most people, 85%, were at least somewhat confident their employer selected the best plan, according to the study, which is part of the 2014 EBRI/Greenwald and Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey that polled 1,517 U.S. workers ages 21 to 64.

Having multiple plans to choose from is important for most employees, the study found. About half, 46%, said choice of health plan is extremely important and 36% said it was very important. Just 3% said having choices wasn’t important. Most people want more variety — with 14% reporting they are extremely interested in more choices, 27% are very interested and 36% are somewhat interested.

“Choice of health plans is important to workers, and they would like more choices,” says Paul Fronstin, director of ERBI’s health research and education program. “But most workers express confidence that their employers or unions have selected the best available health plan — and they are not as confident in their ability to choose the best available plan if their employers or unions did in fact stop offering coverage.”

Premiums and cost-sharing were top factors influencing plan choice, with 82% of employees citing those as major considerations, the study found. Other top concerns included out-of-pocket limits, the list of in-network doctors and hospitals, prescription coverage and exclusions.

Should employer-sponsored benefits become taxable, 47% of employees said they would keep their current coverage, a 7% increase from 2012. More than a quarter, 26%, said they would change to a cheaper employer-provided plan, 20% would shop for benefits directly from an insurer and 7% would drop coverage, the study found.

How satisfied are employees with their benefits?

Most employees are satisfied with their employer-sponsored health benefits, but a growing number of workers would rather have higher wages and fewer benefits, the study shows.

Sixty-nine percent of employees said they were satisfied with their benefits in 2014. Of the 31% who weren’t happy with their benefits, 19% said they would trade benefits for more money — up from 10% in 2012. Twelve percent of employees said they’d forgo wages in favor of a more rich benefits package.

“This growing interest in trading benefits for wages may reflect an intensifying desire for real wage growth in the wake of the great recession,” says Fronstin, co-author of the report. 

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